The belt tensioner in your Saturn is responsible for keeping the engine belt tight. It also transfers the power through the pulleys to the alternator from the serpentine belt. It generates the right amount of tension, and that keeps the engine running and driving the components. Belt tensioners can lose their efficiency due to age. If you don't replace your belt tensioner, you run the risk of engine failure.
Here are some signs that the belt tensioner may need to be replaced:
- The battery light will come on. It will start to run down because it's not getting enough power from the alternator to keep it charged. A slipping belt tensioner does not work properly.
- You will hear a loose belt or a fluttering noise under the hood while driving. You may also hear a whirling or squealing towards the front of the engine. This is a sign that the spring is failing in the tensioner.
- There can be rust or dirt built up around the tensioner. Rust will inhibit the tensioner’s ability to spin freely. Rust can spread to the alternator or other engine components.
- If the pulley is damaged, it can cause damage to the belt tensioner due to vibration. Pulley damage is indicative of a physical problem or too much tension.
If you determine that you need to replace the belt tensioner, you need some tools and a replacement tensioner.
- Socket set
- Park your Saturn on a flat, dry surface and wait for the engine to completely cool.
- Find the tensioner arm that is located on the left of the crankshaft pulley. Put the ratchet drive in the square hole that attaches the arm to the pulley. Lift the ratchet up and take the serpentine belt off the pulley without taking the belt off the other pulleys.
- Use your pliers to remove the spring from the tensioner arm. It is on the bottom of the arm.
- Use the socket and the ratchet to take off the two bolts that keep the arm attached to the engine block. Take the tensioner off.
- Put the new tensioner back on the block and reattach the bolts using your socket and ratchet.
- Use your pliers to reattach the spring on the tensioner arm. It goes on the bottom.
- Place the ratchet into the square hole located on the arm. Lift up the handle.
- Put the serpentine belt back on the tensioner pulley.
This should take care of any problems you might be having that indicate a tensioner pulley failure. If this does not solve your problem, you may need to take your Saturn to your local dealership.